Saturday, January 28, 2017

It’s a matter of life or death

Ever since the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was signed into law by President Obama on March 23, 2010, the more conservative members of the Republican Party have been determined to repeal it, despite the fact that President Obama has been willing to work with them to modify it more to their satisfaction. On February 2, 2016, the House of Representatives voted for the 60th time to repeal the law, which brings to mind the definition of insanity. Insanity is defined as continuing to do the same action over and over again, and somehow expect different results.

The sheer stupidity of those conservative Republicans reached its peak (or its nadir) in October of 2013, when they shut down the government for 12 days in their effort to cut off funding for the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare due to the fact that it was championed by our 44th President. The 12 day shutdown cost the economy $24 billion in lost productivity, but failed to achieve its stated purpose. In addition, it caused the approval rating of Congress to drop to 9%, the lowest approval rate on record.

Its critics maintain that it is burdensome and a job killer, which is absolute nonsense. 20,000,000 people now have insurance coverage that they did not have before, and our uninsured rate is now at 11.4%, the lowest rate in our history.

As of November, 2016, our country had experienced a record 73 straight months of job growth, and the private sector has added 15.6 million jobs since Obama was sworn in. Our current unemployment rate is 4.9%, the lowest rate the economy has enjoyed since the 1950’s. The average unemployment rate for the period 1948 to 2015 is 5.81%. The peak was 10.80 in 1982, when Saint Ronnie was President, and the lowest was 2.5% in 1953, when Eisenhower was President.

The marginal tax rate in 1953, incidentally, was 92%, which means that high taxes don’t kill jobs. The top marginal tax rate in 1980 was 70%. The next year, it was cut to 69.13%, and in 1982, it was cut to 50%, which proves that cutting taxes does not lead to job growth.

After 7 years, the Republican Party still does not have a replacement plan in place for Obamacare, but with the election of our dictator in chief, they have taken the first steps to repealing the act.

According to the Washington Post, repealing the Affordable Care Act will lead to an additional 43,000 deaths a year.

In addition, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget has estimated that a repeal will add $350 billion to our national debt over the next decade.

Since it appears the repealing the Affordable Care Act makes no sense at all, why do the conservatives keep pushing it? As usual, taking care of the rich guys is a priority. According to Forbes, repealing the Affordable Care Act will provide an average financial benefit to those in the top 1% of $33,000 a year. For the folks in the lower tax brackets, their tax burdens will INCREASE. A repeal could also cause 29,000,000 people to lose their health insurance.

There ARE ways to prevent this utter disaster from occurring, and the best possible way is for the citizens to get mad as hell and CONSTANTLY bombard our elected officials. Donald Trump is unlikely to last 4 years, for a variety of reasons, but the more sane members of the Republican Party will be, and they definitely need to hear from us.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Going to court can be fun !

For most of us, gong to court usually is not a pleasant experience. The last time that Sharon and I went to court (to unsuccessfully fight a bogus credit card debt) we got rear-ended on the way to the DuPage Government Center, and had to reschedule our meeting. Sharon wound up going to a local hospital to have her back pains taken care of, and the guy that hit us totaled his car.

However, not all the trips to the court house are unpleasant, and we just experienced one of those happy trips on Friday, December 16, at the government center in downtown Tucson.

Kelly and her long time friend Chris met on a website called “plenty of fish” almost exactly 5 years ago. Our initial opinion of Chris was the same one you would get when your 15 year old daughter comes home with her biker friend. He had long, kinky hair, his body was covered with tattoos, and he hasn’t worked for years. Like all relationships, they have had a few rocky moments over the last 5 years, but discovered that they had a lot of common interests, and gradually experienced a deepening of feelings towards each other.

Now, for a little background …

There are numerous organizations that will accept hair from people so that bald cancer patients will have wigs to wear, and that is why Chris had been growing his hair for 2 years by the time that we met him.

I’m not a fan of tattoos personally, but I am reminded of a quote that I saw recently, where an individual discovered that an acquaintance who was covered with tattoos was one of the nicest people in the world, but another acquaintance who attended church every single week was a despicable hypocrite.

The reason that Chris has not worked for years was that he was injured when he was serving his country (in the Navy), and he has been a "regular customer" of the VA ever since.

In many relationships, the female half is more eager to tie the knot, but our non-traditional daughter was actually the one who dragged her feet. As they approached the 5 year mark, they mutually agreed it was finally time to get hitched – so they did.

Kim Kardashion’s mega-million dollar wedding to Chris Humphries resulted in a divorce 40 days later, so Kelly and Chris had long ago decided that a big church wedding was simply not in the cards.

The other option to getting married was to go to a Justice of the Peace, which is an option that my sister Mary chose more than 40 years ago. It’s also a very popular option in Tucson , where weddings are performed on Tuesday and Friday. On the night that we went to the courthouse, there were roughly 40 other couples, some of whom were visibly pregnant, and some of whom already had children.

When it came time to witness the uniting of Chris and Kelly, our Justice of the Peace was a man named Paul Simon, who was actually a great guy. Due to the fact that we all wore Star Wars t-shirts, he decided that we were the most fun group of the evening.

When my sister Mary’s daughter got married 5 years ago, she and her hubby Thom got married outdoors deep in the woods of the San Bernadino mountains. All of the food was vegetarian, and all of the deserts were homemade pies, and it was a MARVELOUS experience.

The after-wedding dinner for Kelly and Chris was at a local vegetarian restaurant in Tucson called Lovin’ Spoonfuls, which happens to be one of the restaurants that Brian’s company delivers food for. Believe it or not, the food was FANTASTIC, and the wine was also very good. I have a feeling that Kelly and Chris are going to be a married couple for a very long time. To borrow a quote from the Star Wars series, “may the force be with you”.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Are the Finns REALLY smarter than us?

Nearly two years ago, I wrote a couple of article about why the Finns are smarter than us (one article was written in English, and the other was written in Finnish).

The topic of the quality of our K-12 school system came up in a discussion at one of the local high schools the other day, and the person who I was talking with blamed the slip in our status to the Department of Education.

Although our universities are still among the best in the world, our K-12 schools are ranked 18th in the world, and the Finns are #1, which begs the question. Are we really that bad, or have the Finns improved that much?

America has long had a history of excellent education systems. A large part of the reason that our economy is the largest in the world is that the G.I. bill allowed returning WWII vets to pursue higher education, which led to more and competitive institutions of higher learning. As recently as 1996, our K-12 system was ranked the best in the world, but by 2009, we had slipped to #18. The decline came about due to complacency and inefficiency, as well as inconsistencies among the various school systems.

The Department of Education actually didn’t exist until October 17, 1979. Prior to that time, its duties were performed by the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. The Department of Education is by far the smallest cabinet-level department, with about 5000 employees, and an annual budget of around $73 billion. The Department of Health and Human Services has the largest budget, at ($869 billion in 2010), but defense is close behind, with a budget of $692 billion. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 also allowed the Department of Education to obtain some additional funds. In 2009, this act channeled an additional $102 billion to the Department of Education, but funding ceased after 2012.

After our K-12 system had slipped in ranking compared to other countries, education leaders throughout the country realized that some changes needed to be made. In 2009, the National Governors Association started to work on new standards for education, The final solution that the Governors Association developed became known as Common Core, and the standards have been adopted by 42 of the 50 states. Three states (Oklahoma, Indiana, and South Carolina) initially adopted Common Core, but have since repealed it. Significantly, Texas (which has an outsized influence on the textbooks that are used nationwide) never adopted the standards. Texas also leads the nation in the number of students are home schooled, with roughly 300,000 children in 120,000 families. Some of those children are not being educated at all, since their families believe that the will all be called up in “the rapture”.

It’s safe to say that the Common Core standards are not understood by large members of the public, some of whom feel that it is a Federally-mandated program that is being forced on them.

It’s not, and the Federal government has no control over that program, but DID provide incentives for adopting the program.

The largest group of private schools in the country is the Catholic school system, and there is also a lot of disagreement in the leaders of this group about the value of Common Core. The National Catholic Educational Association takes the position that that is nothing incompatible in the Core with Catholic education, but the U.S Council Bishops (who advised NOT voting for Donald Trump) has urged Catholic schools to be cautious about using the Common Core.

The Cardinal Newman Society, a conservative Catholic organization is anti-Core, and is writing its own standards. To further confuse matters, an organization called the National Association of Private Catholic and Independent Schools has urged its members not to use Common Core, and to use the standards that IT is developing.

Since Finland’s student population is more homogenous than ours, it was easier for them to improve their standards. In contrast, America has long been the melting pot of the world, which makes it more difficult to make sweeping changes in our educational system.

One of the main reasons for the decline in our ranking is the lack of consistency between school districts, and Common Core was created specifically to address that issue. However, since Common Core is neither universally understood, nor embraced, we will likely continue to be ranked a long ways from the best in the world for the foreseeable future.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016


In June of 2009, Iran held an election that pitted the incumbent President Mahmound Ahmadinejad against challengers Mir-Hossein Mousavi, Mehdi Karroubi, and Mohsen Rezaee. Although the incumbent President had captured 60% of the vote, there were widespread reports of election fraud (rigging) that led to demonstrations throughout Iran.

The protests in Iran started on the night of June 12, 2009, and lasted until February 10, 2011. In addition to numerous cities in Iran, the protests also expanded into a variety of cities in 40 other countries.

Officially, the number of deaths in the demonstrations was 36, but the number was actually closer to 72, and none of them were as famous as the death of Neda Agha-Soltan, whose death was posted on Facebooks, and quickly became the most watched killing in history.

In addition to those killed, an estimated 4000 people were arrested, Although the world was largely sympathetic to the protestors, the protests were not successful in forcing Ahmadinejad from power. He was term limited by the constitution to two terms, and was replaced on August 3, 2013 by Hassan Rouhani, who is the incumbent President.

That video is posted below:

dying in the street

At the time of her death, Neda was 26 years old, and she worked for her family’s travel agency. She was apolitical, and was not participating in the demonstrations. She simply stopped by with her music teacher to observe. As she walked back to her car, she was fatally shot in the chest. Although the identity of the murderer is still in dispute, reliable sources say that he was a member of Basij, a paramilitary group. The individual who has been accused of being the killer is named Abbas Kargar Javid, who is a member of Basij.

Neda’s story came to mind the week of November 7, when Donald Trump shocked and surprised the world by gaining more electoral votes than Hillary Clinton, even though she had gained roughly 400,000 more of the popular votes than he did. A week later, her margin was over 1,000,000 more votes, and is projected to be close to 2,000,000 by the time all the votes are counted.

In the latter stages of the campaign, Trump stated his belief that the election was rigged, due to the fact that virtually all the polls said the Hillary Clinton would have an easy win.

Trump is right. The campaign WAS rigged, but it was rigged by HIS campaign, not Hillary’s.

I have personally asked the Justice Department to investigation three specific areas of his campaign, which are as follows:

1) The website of the Democratic National Committee was hacked sometime this fall, and 20,000 emails were leaked to Wikileaks. In early October, the Department of Homeland Security and the intelligence community stated that they were confident that Moscow is behind the leaks.

2) 11 days before the election, FBI director James Comey sent a memo to Congress that he was taking another look at some of Hillary’s emails that had turned up in correspondence linked to Anthony Weiner, who is married (still) to Huma Abedin, a longtime friend of Mrs Clinton. She served as the vice chairwoman of Hillary’s Presidential campaign.

3) In mid - October, a senior Trump official told Businessweek that they had 3 major voter suppression operations in place. They were designed to suppress the votes of idealistic young liberals, young women, and African-Americans, all of whom are far more likely to vote Democratic than Republican. It is far too early to tell how successful the operations are, but the voter ID laws in Wisconsin, to use one example, caused 41,000 fewer votes to be cast in Milwaukee than were cast in 2012. In total, roughly 300,000 otherwise eligible voters in the state were denied the right to vote. Trump carried Wisconsin by 27,000 votes, and his margin in Michigan was an even thinner 11,000 votes.

Immediately after the election results were announced, protests erupted around the country. Both north bound Lake Shore Drive in Chicago, and parts of I-94 in the Twin Cities were blacked for a period of time by the protests, which have been overwhelming peaceful, and without incident. The one exception (so far) is Portland, Oregon, where a protestor was shot in the leg. The website of GOPUSA described the incident as “shooting in Portland as thugs rail against the Democrat process”, ignoring the fact that the right of assembly is enshrined in the 1st amendment of the Constitution.

If the inquiries by the Justice Department are not successful in reversing the results of the election, the next option is the Electoral College, which is scheduled to meet on December 19. Although historically the Electoral College has concurred with the electoral vote total, they are not obligated to do so. Ironically, Mr. Trump said that the Electoral College was a “disaster” during the 2012 Presidential campaign. In the event that enough electors switch their votes, and both candidates wind up with exactly 269 votes, then the decision passes to the House of Representatives. There are only two times in the history of our country that the House decided on the President, and the most recent decision was in 1824.

The Electoral College was designed to be a compromise between the government and the people. Alexander Hamilton was concerned that a charismatic tyrant could manipulate public opinion and come into power, which is why he did not want the President to be elected ONLY by popular vote, but he DID want voters to have a say in the process. Since a charismatic tyrant DID recently manipulate the public and become President-elect, the Electoral College has every right to reject him.

When Vice-President elect Mike Pence recently attended a performance of the play “Hamilton” in New York, he was booed by some members of the audience. At the end of the performance, one of the cast members addressed Pence directly, and politely asked him to protect the rights of ALL Americans. Trump took that as harassment, and immediately demanded (by tweet) that the cast members apologize. Trump, of course, has never apologized to the 281 people that HE criticized during the course of the campaign, but that’s just how he operates. The New York Times listed them by name on October 24, 2016.

If the Electoral College decided that Hillary Clinton should be the next President, there will be howls of protest from Republican voters, and there would likely be significant violence, since we have already seen plenty of examples of that during Trump’s campaign. Once the Electoral College has made its decision, it is ratified by the Senate, and that meeting is scheduled for December 6. Since the Republicans now control by houses o Congress, it’s unlikely that they would agree to a President Clinton, but you never know.

Once Trump is in office, a few observers have noted that he could well be impeached by his own party, which would give us President Pence, which isn’t much of an improvement. One of the reasons that he could be impeached is fraud committed before being elected, and a court date is set in California for November 28 that will examine the fraud he committed with Trump University. The rape case of the 13 year old girl is also scheduled to take place in New York before the end of the year. Since he just agreed to settle the Trump University case for $25 million, that case will not be going to trial, but the rape case is still dangling in the wind – as are 75 other pending court cases.

If Trump somehow manages to last 4 years, he is unlikely to get re-elected due to the following reasons:

1) The wall that he promised his supporters along the Mexican border isn’t going to get built. Although Trump has said the wall would cost $12 billion, a Washington Post study said the cost would be $25 billion, and would not result in no economic benefit to the United States. Mexico isn’t going to pay for the wall. If built, it would jeopardize our trade with Mexico, who is our 3rd largest trading partner. In 2015, we exported $267.2 billion worth of goods and services, and imported $316.4 billion. Since Canada is our 2nd largest trading partner, it’s clear that NAfTA was not the disaster that Mr. Trump said that it was.

2) He is not going to deport 11,000,000 illegal immigrants. According to a study by the American Action Forum, it would cost between $400 billion and $600 billion to do so.

3) He has already said that he isn’t going to repeal Obamacare, although it is certainly likely that it will be modified.

4) He has also stated that he is going to honor the nuclear arms treaty that was signed with Iran

5) If his tax plan were to be put in place, our national debt would skyrocket. According to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, his plan would increase our national debt by 5.3 trillion, a healthy increase over the 19.5 trillion dollars that it will be at the end of the 2017 fiscal year. It is interesting to note that the last time the national debt went down was when Jimmy Carter was President. Since the Eisenhower years, our national debt, as a percentage of GDP, had gone DOWN when a Democrat was President, and UP when a Republican was in office. Ronald Reagan nearly tripled the national debt when he was in office.

6) The “rust belt” jobs of the white workers in the Midwest who helped him get elected are not coming back. Technology has made them obsolete.

80% of the folks who would consider themselves to be Evangelical Christians voted for Trump, even though Pope Francis has stated that Trump was definitely NOT a Christian, and a lot of these folks voted for Trump due to the abortion issue. In at least some cases, that was the ONLY reason they voted for Trump. This issue was especially complex for Roman Catholics. Even though the Conference of Catholic bishops had urged them NOT to vote for Trump, a pastor in Phoenix has proclaimed that anyone who voted for the Democrats was as guilty of performing abortions as the doctor who actually performed them. Although the idea is absurd, there ARE a lot of folks who believe him.

Trump himself has long been pro-choice, and he urged his then-mistress, Marla Maples, to get an abortion when she got pregnant. She refused, and their daughter Tiffany was born on October 13, 1993. Two months later, she and Donald Trump got married in New York.

In late April, Trump changed his position on abortion 5 times in a 3 day time period, so none of us really knows exactly what his position is.

Although all of us would love to see fewer abortions, the fact remains that abortions go DOWN when Democrats are in power, and go UP when Republicans are in power. They peaked when Reagan was President, declined when Clinton was in office, and increased when George W. was in office. Since Obama has been in office, they have declined 13%, and are now at a 40 year low.

In Iran, the lives of the average citizens did not change much after the re-election of their President, but the members of the marginalized members of their society, especially the religious minority, suffered greatly.

In America, most of would not be greatly inconvenienced by a Trump Presidency, but since his election a week ago, the Southern Poverty Law Center has documented 400 cases of discrimination against Asians, blacks, and Muslims. Those incidents include a Muslim man whose car was fire bombed while driving on a freeway in Texas. When Barack Obama was first elected in 2008, many people watching the ceremony shed tears of joy, and our country during his tenure has improved tremendously, in spite of unprecedented obstruction from some members of the Republican Party. During the period that will eventually become known as the new Camelot, Sister Kathy Sherman’s song, “this is the America I believe in” took on new meaning.

Even is Trump does get sworn in, there are MANY public officials who will fight tooth and nail to defend the progress that we have made as a society, and Senator Elizabeth Warren (who Trump called Pocahontas on the campaign trail) will likely be at the forefront of many of the fights.

give him hell, Elizabeth

Neda’s story has long since faced from memory, but the peaceful protests that she witnessed are still very much alive in America today, and will help to keep our elected demagogues in check.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

those darn Catholics

We recently became aware of the fact that one of our friends from Minnesota, Connie Walsh, had participated in a Future Church teleconference featuring four women who recently became deacons in the Catholic Church. The last time that I saw Connie personally was about 5 years ago. At that time, she was considering becoming a priest, but later decided that the job involved too many administrative duties.

If you would like to listen to the teleconference, a link to it is below:

women on the altar

if you would like to learn more about Roman Catholic women priests, a link to the site is listed below:

let’s rock the boat

During the teleconference, Connie was asked who her modern role model was, and she said it was Sister Joan Chittester, who is a woman that I was familiar with.

Her biography is listed below:

who is Joan Chittester?

Her website is also shown below:

more about Joan

You’ll notice that she has written over 50 books (all of which can be purchased from Amazon) and she also has written numerous other articles. I thought it would be fun to read some of her books, but our local library was not able to obtain any of them.

They final succeeded in finding a book that contained about 6 pages related to her, so I asked them to order it for me.

The book that they obtained was written by Kerry Kennedy (daughter of the later Robert Kennedy) and it is titled “Being Catholic Now”. In addition to the comments by Sister Joan, it also contains comments from 36 other prominent Americans about their Catholic faith.

Kerry is a devout Catholic, as are the majority of the rest of the people in the book. Regardless of your religious background, or your current religious beliefs, it is worth reading. Without exception, the individuals who discussed the nuns or their local priests were very pleased with them. There was less agreement on the church hierarchy, especially the bishops and archbishops.

I guarantee that you’ll find the book to be very educational, but I also guarantee you that at least a few of the individuals quoted will make you feel uncomfortable, which is precisely how all of us learn and grow as we go through life.

If you can find the book at your local library, check it out. If you can’t, it can also be purchased from Amazon.

Go in peace.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Dewey beats Truman

One of the most famous newspaper headlines in history was the one that was printed by the Chicago Daily Tribune on the morning of November 3, 1948, the day after the election. It boldly declared that Thomas Dewey had beaten Harry Truman in the 1948 Presidential election, and it reaffirmed the fact that every poll had confidently predicted that Dewey would win. Just before the election, Life magazine had even released a cover with a photo of Dewey and the caption, “The Next President of the United States”.

Truman was not a glad hander, and the Daily Tribune had a low opinion of him. At one point, they actually called him a nincompoop on their editorial page.

At the time of the election, the Daily Tribune was struggling with a printer’s strike, which forced it to go to press hours before it normally would have. As the deadline for the first headline approached, managing editor Pat Maloney had to make a deadline call, even though results were still coming in from the East Coast. Due to the fact that the paper’s Washington correspondent, Arthur Sears Henning had predicted that Dewey would win, (and he was rarely wrong), Maloney decided to publish the opinion that Dewey had won.

The Tribune had already printed 150,000 copies before radio bulletins reported that the race was surprisingly close. Although the paper ultimately tried to destroy as many of the first edition as it could, one copy managed to get to St. Louis, and was shown to Harry Truman, who proudly held it up for the photographers.

A limited number of papers somehow managed to survive the purge by the Tribune, and a few of them turned up years later. On the day that a Texas couple found one in an abandoned storage facility in 2012, there were six of them listed for sale on eBay. The most expensive one was listed at $2495, but pristine copies of the same edition have sold for as much as $4000, a pretty hefty price for a newspaper that originally sold for 4 cents.

All of us make mistakes at some point in our lives, usually more frequently than we might care to admit. Nevertheless, most of us manage to accomplish enough positive things that we redeem ourselves.

Arguably, the most famous mistake in history was the printing of a postage stamp called “the inverted Jenny”, which was first issued on May 10, 1918. It shows a picture of a Curtis JN-4 airplane flying upside down. Only one pane of 100 inverted stamps was ever found,, which made them prized collector’s items. On May 31, 2016, a perfect copy of an “inverted Jenny” stamp was sold at auction. The final selling price, including the buyer’s premium, was $1,175,000.

The 1948 Presidential election is considered by most historians to be one of the greatest election upsets in American history. Ultimately, Harry Truman captured 28 states and 303 electoral ballots, considerably more than the 266 electoral votes that were required at the time. He got 24,179,347 votes, a little more than 2,000,000 more votes than his rival, Thomas Dewey.

The Truman administration achieved some notable accomplishments, but the start of the Korean War, and his dismissal of General Douglas MacArthur caused his approval rating to plummet to 22% by 1952, which helped Dwight Eisenhower achieve a landslide victory in the 1952 election. After his defeat, Thomas Dewey resumed his role of governor of New York, a role that he held until 1954. At that point, he returned to his private law practice, which made him a very wealthy man.

Thomas Dewey is a good example of handling defeat with honor, and his modern day counterpart is Al Gore, who was defeated by George W. Bush in 2000, even though he had actually captured 500,000 MORE votes than George Bush. The election was finally determined by the fact that Bush captured 271 electoral votes (ONE more that was needed) and Gore captured 266.

I am not a crook.

Eventually, it was determined that Bush actually LOST the election, but by that time, Gore had conceded defeat without whining that the election was “rigged”. As a result, he was able to spend more time discussing climate change, and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for his documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth”.

The botched headline in 1948 did not do any lasting damage to the Chicago Tribune. Over the years, the paper has earned 25 Pulitzer prizes, a respectable number in view of the fact that owner Robert McCormick refused to participate in the awards for a number of years.

The moral of this story is that if you make a mistake, don’t spend a lot of time agonizing over it. Admit your mistake and move on. Tomorrow is another day.

Friday, October 14, 2016

take me out to the ball game, part 2

By now, most of us are VERY TIRED of politics, so it’s fortunate that all the madness will finally come to fruition in a little more than 3 weeks. The majority of the voting population made their decision a long time ago, which means that Trump supporters are unmoved by the “locker room talk” video that turned up last week, and Clinton supporters really don’t care about the Clinton emails that just got released by Wiki Leaks. However, there ARE a lot of people who are undecided because they don’t trust either side.

There WAS a time that the most trusted person in America was Walter Cronkite, but the highest ranked news person today, Diane Sawyer of ABC World News, weighs in at the #25 slot. The top 4 slots are held by actors, and the highest rated politician is First Lady Michelle Obama, who is slotted #19:

Whether we like to admit it or not, all of us can’t help but feel compelled to devour everything that we can about politics, and easy access to numerous publications and websites helps the feeding frenzy.

As a result, it’s important to step back a minute, and consider the fact that there ARE other things in life besides politics.

Like baseball, for instance.

When I was a kid, the most important sport in America was baseball, but it now ranks 2nd (to football) in popularity. As a result, most of us have forgotten that the World Series will start on October 25, and there is a very good chance that the Chicago Cubs could win, due to the fact that they have the best record in baseball, with 103 wins and 58 losses. In contrast, my “old home team”, the Minnesota Twins, have the WORST record in baseball, with 103 LOSSES.

I rarely watch sports on television, and I haven’t been to a professional ball game for a lot years, but I have met a few people who are avid baseball fans, and wrote about one of them last spring.

The best place in the world to watch professional baseball is at Wrigley Field, which I have done on numerous occasions. There's nothing that can compare to having a cold beer in your hand while watching a baseball game being played outdoors in a stadium that has real ivy growing up its walls.

The pre-eminent Cubs fan is the late Steve Goodman. Although he is better known for “The City of New Orleans”, he also wrote a song titled “a dying Cubs fan last request”.

Fittingly, 4 days after his death, on September 24, 1984, the Cubs clinched the Eastern Division title of the National League for the first time in their history, giving them their first post season berth since the 1945 World Series (the first year of the billy goat curse.).

His last song, “a dying Cubs’ fan last request” is worth listening to again:

Steve Goodmans’s last song

Do yourself a favor, and forget politics for a while.

Let’s all go watch a ball game !